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April 10, 2006


NEW YORK, April 10, 2006 – Members of The City College of New York (CCNY) Chapter of Engineers Without Borders will travel to Nueva Suiza, a small village in a mountainous region of Honduras, over their Spring Break to conduct preliminary work for designing a water collection, distribution and treatment for that community.

The CCNY Chapter, which was chartered last fall and has 40 members, was selected for the project after submitting a proposal to the national organization.  “We submitted ideas on how to fix the problem and had to show we had knowledge of the country and could create a sustainable project,” explained Yurintzy Estrada, a senior civil engineering major who is manager of the project.

Ms. Estrada and fellow chapter members Miguel Matos and Rebecca Pizarro will visit Nueva Suiza from April 13 – 20 along with chapter advisors Beth Wittig, CCNY Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering, and Cliff Gold, P.E., a CCNY civil engineering alumnus.  Funding for their trip was made possible by grants from The Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies, the Grove School of Engineering, the CCNY Alumni Association and the CCNY Auxiliary Enterprise Committee.

“They were awarded the project over some of the best engineering schools in the country because their proposal demonstrated understanding of the technical and cultural issues related to the project, ability to achieve the project and dedication to implementing sustainable designs,” added Professor Wittig.

The party will visit Nueva Suiza, a community with approximately 250 residents, to collect and analyze water and soil samples, survey the natural topography to determine the best pathway for the distribution lines and assess the existing health of the community as a result of drinking polluted water.  The chapter will work on designing the new facility over the spring and summer.  In August, a group from CCNY will revisit the village to begin construction using materials purchased by the CCNY student chapter and labor supplied by the community.  The students will also train an elected villager to maintain the disinfection system.

Nueva Suiza’s existing water supply comes from a spring-fed pool contained by a natural dam made of rocks and clay.  Community members must walk one kilometer to the dam to collect water and then carry it back to their homes.  For many, the trek is too arduous and they have resorted to drawing water much closer to their homes from a small stream that has formed from the dam’s spillover.  However, this rivulet has become contaminated and has caused many residents to become sick.

The project proposed by the CCNY Engineers Without Borders will develop a water capture and distribution system capable of serving the whole community as well as a treatment system to remove pollutants from the water prior to distribution.  It also calls for a sanitation program to reduce contamination of the ground water supply for nearby communities caused by wastewater generated by the village.  “By disinfecting the water and then bringing it to the community, we will help to improve the community’s public health and free the water carriers to spend their time in more valuable ways,” Professor Wittig added.

About The City College of New York

For over 158 years, The City College of New York has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines.  Over 12,200 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in the College of Liberal Arts and Science, the School of Architecture, the School of Education, the Grove School of Engineering, the Center for Worker Education and the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education.